A novel approach to identify sources, transfer and impact of domoic acid in marine food webs

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Domoic acid (DA) is a naturally occurring toxin produced by the algae Pseudo-nitzschia and other certain types of algae that grow in marine systems. The magnitude and duration of Pseudo-nitzschia blooms are producing unprecedented levels of DA continues to increase along the West Coast of North America, posing a significant health risk and threatening the survival of top predators.

This project aims to improve the understanding of toxic Pseudo-nitzschia blooms in Monterey Bay by identifying the source or sources of nitrogen used in the production of DA; evaluating temporal variability in nitrogen sources used in the production of DA;  tracing DA and nitrogen throughout marine food webs; and determining the trophic position of animals affected by DA.

The results of this study will be integrated into current efforts to forecast toxic Pseudo-nitzschia blooms. Project results will be shared with regional shellfish growers and fisheries managers via the SCCOOS network, and will be further integrated into protocols to monitor the effect of DA in other California hot spots in collaboration with California Sea Grant extension specialists.

Principal Investigators
Rocio Ruiz-Cooley
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories / San Jose State University
Co-principal Investigators
Raphael Kudela
University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)